If your dog or cat is frightened of fireworks, the words ‘Remember, remember the 5th of November’ probably fill you with dread. It is no fun when your normally calm, confident, loving pet turns into a restless, shivering, terrified wreck as the firework season gets under way.
If only it was just for the 5th of November! Sadly the season now starts in October and lasts well into the New Year, so the months running up to the Christmas festivities and New Year parties can be a very stressful time, for both pets and owners.
During fireworks, does your pet:
• pant and shiver/tremble
• pace up and down, become restless and unable to settle
• refuse to eat
• try to hide, cower or even try to run away
• bark or whine
• become very ‘clingy’ to you
• soil the house
If fireworks cause your pet to display any of these behaviours, it means they are very scared and in need of some support and help. Please do not think that there is nothing you can do, or worse, assume it will get better. It is extremely rare for a noise phobia to get better by itself – it usually worsens as your pet gets older and they may become hypersensitive to other loud noises too, growing increasingly fearful.
There are a variety of ways to help your pet – for instance, did you know that stroking, cuddling or trying to reassure pets actually reinforces the anxiety and fear? Animals are experts at reading body language and take their lead from you, so if you appear to be ignoring the noise and are relaxed (stretch out on the settee, watch a comedy, laugh and smile!), you will help them to understand that it’s not important, you’re not scared by it.
An excellent product for dogs, which is very successful for treating firework phobia, is ‘Adaptil’, a synthetic pheromone that replicates the comforting pheromone (a natural chemical made and secreted by the body) produced by a bitch when she’s feeding her puppies. This simple to use product (your dog wears a collar impregnated with the pheromone) has been so successful in scientific studies for lots of situations (rescue dogs, firework/noise phobia, travelling problems, anxiety/fearful behaviour) that many rescue centres use it to help dogs/puppies adjust to new lives and behaviourists also use it, in conjunction with other treatments. The feline equivalent is ‘Feliway’, available as a spray or a diffuser to spread ‘happy cat’ pheromones and restore your cat’s feeling of security and calm. This is also used by some catteries to help cats settle into their hotel accommodation more quickly.
For the best results, these products should be used in combination with other treatments to help your pet. To find out the many ways to help your pet, including safe medication (for severe problems), please come to the Clockhouse Vets and talk to us.
Make a 20 minute appointment with a veterinary nurse who, for only £10, will go through behavioural and linked dietary advice, give advice on pheromone treatments, discuss short or long term management plans and, for severe cases of phobia, discuss medication. This cost will include a short vet health check, if medication is felt to be required.